What Fotopedia can tell us about Friday’s China iPad launch

An image of Tianenman Square from Fotopedia China

The travel photo app collections from Fotopedia are, it turns out, really big in China. The photo-centric app founded by former Apple scientist Jean Marie Hullot does slideshows, trip planning and even boasts travel articles, and it is only available for iPhone and iPad(s AAPL). It’s available in seven languages, but has been available for just about a year in Chinese. In that time, customers in China have come to be the fastest-growing, heaviest users in the world for Fotopedia. Naturally, it’s launching a China travel version of its app on Thursday, which coincides with the new iPad’s launch in China.
But about those stats, which make a decent case for the new iPad to have a successful launch: Fotopedia has 12 million users in 160 countries. Its users in China, however, account for 20 percent of the company’s mobile audience — ahead of the U.S. with 13 percent and Japan with 10 percent.
And when you break it down to the iPad only, Fotopedia users in China account for 30 percent — far and away the largest chunk — of its user base. Or, as SVP Christophe Daligault put it, for its iPad users, China equals “the U.S., plus Japan, plus France,” the latter being Fotopedia’s home turf. “It’s really huge,” he said in a phone call on Wednesday. In particular the team at Fotopedia saw that apps featuring regional neighbors Burma, North Korea and Japan, released in previous years, were extremely popular in China — in fact, the Japan travel app did better in China than Japan, according to the company.
Something else the team couldn’t ignore was how fast the uptake of all of its Fotopedia iPad apps were following the release of the new iPad in March. Traffic to its iPad apps was up 78 percent, and they link that to the iPad’s Retina display, which makes apps like Fotopedia, which are hugely dependent on image quality, look better than ever.
That’s why the folks at Fotopedia are betting that their customers are going to be super jazzed about a China-centric app. Fotopedia China will be available in the iOS App Store Thursday, which coincides (in local time) with the release of the latest model Apple tablet in China for the very first time — Friday.
Like its other country-specific apps, Fotopedia’s China app is chock full of beautiful travel photography of the country’s iconic imagery, as well as people going about everyday life. It’s available in Chinese, of course, as well as English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. There are 4,000 images of China to page through, which was quite a project for Fotopedia, said Daligault, because China “is a colossus of a country.”
Fotopedia feels pretty good that, while its Chinese audience is already big, it is going to continue to grow at fairly colossal rates: while traffic from the U.S. — where travel is a gigantic industry — doubled in the last year, traffic from users in China grew by a factor of seven in the same time period.
So, while Fotopedia’s app is probably going to be a hit in China, it’s also a pretty safe bet that a brand new iPad, in a country which has already shown a solid appetite for iOS devices, is going to do pretty good.